Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Daily News


tralac Daily News

tralac Daily News

Patel meets with EV manufacturers, investors during visit to China (Engineering News)

Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel and a high-level delegation recently completed a four-day working visit to Shanghai, Nanjing and Beijing, in China, during which they met with government officials, investors and a number of Chinese electric vehicle (EV) and battery manufacturers.

China is the world’s leading producer of EVs and batteries and is currently South Africa’s largest trading partner, with bilateral trade estimated at $34-billion in 2022.

The Minister was accompanied by senior staff of the Industrial Development Corporation and the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (dtic). The visit provided Patel with an opportunity to present the South African automotive value proposition and government policy support to companies looking to invest into the South African automotive industry, particularly in EV manufacturing.

Eswatini launches National Strategy to boost investment under the African Continental Free Trade Area (UNECA)

Eswatini, in collaboration with the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the United Nations System has launched the National AfCFTA Implementation Strategy to boost the country’s trade and investment opportunities. It facilitates the identification of regional value chains to maximise value addition benefits and also identifies trade opportunities and constraints, including measures and capacities required to take full advantage of national, regional, and global markets for goods and services within the context of the AfCFTA.

UK Export Finance delegation heralds new trade opportunities for Benin and Togo (GOV.UK)

The CEO of the United Kingdom’s export credit agency has this week visited Togo and Benin, meeting government ministers in both countries to signal UKEF’s readiness to extend up to £4 billion of support for local projects. Last year, the UK’s exports to Togo were worth £287 million whilst its exports to Benin were worth £58 million. UKEF is working to enable British businesses of all sizes to access opportunities in these and in other Francophone West African countries.

Tim Reid, CEO of UK Export Finance, said: Benin and Togo have ambitious plans for infrastructure and development. UK Export Finance is already supporting exciting projects underway like Cotonou Ministerial City and the Sokode-Benin Road. My visit is giving me the opportunity to make it very clear that UK Export Finance is able to do even more, with billions of pounds available to help local buyers access British exports.

Turkey, Somalia announce agreement to explore for oil and gas (Hiiraan Online)

Somalia and Turkey have announced the signing of a deal to explore for oil and gas that further strengthens cooperation between the two countries, according to officials from both countries. Under the agreement signed Thursday in Turkey, the deal is to promote the development of bilateral, scientific, technical and commercial cooperation between Turkey and Somalia in developing the oil and gas of Somalia, according to Somali Petroleum and Mineral Resources Minister Abdirizak Mohamed.

Sudan economy on brink of collapse following nearly a year of war (The East African)

Largely ravaged productive sectors, stagnating exports, severely devalued national currency, and plummeting public revenues. The nearly one year of war in Sudan has pushed the country’s economy to the brink of paralysis. “According to official estimates, there has been a significant contraction of 40 percent in the gross domestic product (GDP),” a prominent feature of the Sudanese economy’s declined performance due to the ongoing war, Abdul-Khaliq Mahjoub, a Sudanese economic analyst, told Xinhua.

Sudan’s agricultural sector, representing more than a third of its GDP, has been severely affected by “the loss of financing and production inputs, including fertilisers, seeds, and fuel,” Abdul-Qadir Abdoun, a member of the Northern Sudan Farmers Union, told Xinhua.

Crossborder Investments Key to Enhancing Intra-Africa Trade (TechTrendsKE)

Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi has said entry of Commercial International Bank (CIB) into Kenya’s market is a major win for Africa’s quest to enhance trade among its 54 member states. Speaking at the Kenya-Egypt Business Forum in Nairobi attended by 40 Egyptian companies among them construction, transport, water, tourism, manufacturing and healthcare, Mr Mudavadi said Kenya was at the forefront of opening its market to African countries as a boon to intra-Africa trade saying this will generate more jobs for locals as well as help retain more wealth within the country.

“Kenya appreciates the people and the government of Egypt for accepting to have this engagement on Kenya-Egypt cross-border trade on the sidelines of the Joint Commission for Cooperation(JCC). As a government, we will facilitate and give you the necessary support so that trade, commerce and investments can grow and benefit the people in our two countries,” he said.

Trade Pivotal To Nigeria, Africa’s Development (News Agency of Nigeria)

Lennart Oestergaard, Resident Representative Friedrich- Ebert-Stiftung Nigeria Foundation, says trade is pivotal to the development of Nigeria and Africa as a continent. Oestergaard said this at a media briefing on Wednesday in Abuja organised to summarise a Policy Focus Book “How Africa Trades”.

According to Oestergaard, trade is of high importance and should be prioritised if we must achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Africa. He, therefore, urged the Federal Government to accord priority attention to trade so it could contribute to national development.

AfCFTA: Nigeria sets another date to commence official export to S’ Africa, Cameroon, others in April (Ripples Nigeria)

After serially missing crucial deadlines for joining other nations in trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Nigeria is to begin the formal export of locally produced commodities to South Africa, Rwanda, Cameroon and Kenya from next month under the Guided Trade Initiative (GTI), the Nigerian National Action Committee (NAC) of AfCFTA announced on Thursday.

Again, Nigeria missed the August 2023 trading date for the launch of the second phase of GTI, passing over the opportunity to join countries like Rwanda, Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Tanzania, and Tunisia, which have already commenced trading under the GTI.

Despite assurances from the NAC that Nigeria would participate in the second phase of GTI by October 2023, the nation once again failed to meet the target. NAC had cited the awaited official launch date from the AfCFTA Secretariat in Accra, Ghana, as the reason for the delay, further exacerbating concerns about Nigeria’s readiness for AfCFTA trading.

AfCFTA Secretariat, African shippers’ councils sign MoU (Graphic)

The Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Union of African Shippers’ Councils (UASC) to help boost intra-African trade.

Under the agreement, the two parties are to collaborate to remove all bottlenecks affecting transit, trade facilitation, carriage of goods along the entire supply chain and eliminate non-tariff barriers. As a result, the Secretary-General of AfCFTA, Mr Wamkele Mene, signed the agreement on behalf of the secretariat while the President of UASC, Mr Patient Sayiba Tambwe, appended his signature for the union.

Leveraging the designation of the SADC Climate Service Centre as a WMO Regional Climate Centre (SADC)

According to a report released in 2018 by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), climate-related disasters accounted for 91% of all major disasters and 77% of direct economic losses. This shows a 9% increase in climate-related economic losses compared to the period from 1978 to 1998.

The changing climate has impacted various sectors, including water, agriculture, energy, peace and security, and infrastructure, which are fundamental to economic integration. This has led to an increase in food insecurity, poverty, and the loss of livelihoods and economic activities and has given rise to health challenges. Economically interconnected countries must collectively address climate-related risks to ensure shared resources’ resilience and maintain regional economies’ stability.

To tackle poverty, Africa needs welfarist policies and people-centred development, says African Development Bank President Adesina (AfDB)

President of the African Development Bank Group Dr. Akinwumi Adesina has appealed to leaders in Nigeria and across Africa to make poverty history as he outlined a compelling case for welfarist policies and people-centred development.

“Given the high levels of poverty in Africa, and Nigeria, what is needed are welfarist policies that exponentially expand opportunities for all, reduce inequalities, improve the quality of life of people,” Adesina said as he received the prestigious Awolowo prize for leadership at a colourful ceremony in Lagos on Wednesday.

Adesina said a better Africa must start with transforming rural economies, “that is because some 70% of the population lives there. Rural poverty is extremely high. At the heart of transforming rural economies is agriculture, the main source of livelihoods.”

Africa leads the way on inclusivity and trade: Welcoming the AfCFTA Protocol on Women and Youth in Trade at International Women’s Day 2024 (UNECA)

March 8 holds a special place in the calendar of the entire world. On this day, the world celebrates International Women’s Day (IWD) to commemorate and honor women’s accomplishments in all fields of human endeavor, from the social to the economic to the cultural and political. This year’s IWD is celebrated with the overarching theme of “Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress”. The theme emphasizes the importance of gender equality and women empowerment in all facets of life and its role as a critical ingredient for the creation of prosperous, stable and sustainable economies societies.

Gender equality is a priority globally through the 2030 Agenda of the UN (where Goal 5 simply puts its ambition as “achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women”) and continentally through Africa’s Agenda 2063 for ‘The Africa We Want’ and even the AU Constitutive Act (Article 3 of which commits the AU “to ensure the effective participation of women in decision-making, particularly in the political, economic and socio-cultural areas”). Despite this seemingly universal consensus, however, gender-based discrimination remains extant to this day.

But, Africa is leading the world on the issue of women economic empowerment particularly in relation to trade policy. As part the initiative to integrate the Continent through the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), just last month the AU Assembly adopted a landmark legal instrument that aims to pave the way for women and youth to play a proportionate role in leading the Continent’s trade-led integration and shared prosperity. Known as the AfCFTA Protocol on Women and Youth in Trade, this decision represents a significant and unique step towards a more inclusive, equitable and prosperous Africa.

1 in every 10 women in the world lives in extreme poverty (UN Women)

We cannot continue to miss out on the gender-equality dividend. More than 100 million women and girls could be lifted out of poverty if governments prioritized education and family planning, fair and equal wages, and expanded social benefits. Almost 300 million jobs could be created by 2035 through investments in care services, such as provision of daycare and elderly care. And closing gender employment gaps could boost gross domestic product per capita by 20 per cent across all regions.

The areas needing investment are clear and understood. First and foremost there must be an investment in peace. Beyond this, the investments needed include: laws and policies that advance the rights of women and girls; transformation of social norms that pose barriers to gender equality; guaranteeing women’s access to land, property, health care, education, and decent work; and financing women’s groups networks at all levels.

Explainer: How can gender equality reduce poverty? (UN Women)

DDG Hill: Digital and services trade foster socio-economic inclusion of women (WTO)

Delivering a keynote speech on 7 March at a “Women in Trade” event organized by Trade Finance Global in London, Deputy Director-General Johanna Hill emphasized the powerful role digital trade and trade in services can play in fostering women’s socio-economic inclusion.

DDG Hill noted that while trade is known to have a positive impact on women's economic participation, the global trading system is undergoing significant changes. This is why, she said, "we need to ensure that [the future of trade] holds the promise of a better life, in particular for women." She focused her intervention on digital trade and trade in services, citing them as some of the main factors that will shape the future of trade.

On digital trade, DDG Hill gave the example of female farmers of coffee and cocoa, who can connect to new markets and access financial services thanks to blockchain-based technology. Cocoa and coffee farmers are struggling financially, given the prices received for the commodities they produce, she said. According to the Fairtrade Foundation, cocoa farmers earn on average just 6% of the final value of a chocolate bar. Thanks to digital technology, they can connect with buyers and cooperate with other farmers, ensuring a fair price for their products. 

Trade and gender co-chairs discuss post-MC13 work, launch prize for gender equality in trade (WTO)

At a meeting of the Informal Working Group (IWG) on Trade and Gender on 6 March, the co-chairs highlighted gender outcomes at the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) in Abu Dhabi and outlined their vision for advancing work on trade and gender. Members stressed the IWG’s dedication to advancing gender inclusivity in trade. To mark International Women’s Day on 8 March, the co-chairs launched the International Prize for Gender Equality in Trade, with the aim of recognizing the most impactful gender-responsive trade policies implemented by WTO members and observers.

Southern Africa: Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe failing to protect the human rights of women working in informal, cross-border trade (Amnesty International)

The governments of Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe have failed to protect women participating in Informal Cross-Border Trade (ICBT) from gender-based violence and economic exploitation, which has impeded the women’s ability to exercise their human rights in the context of decent work, Amnesty International said today in a new report.

The report, ‘Cross-border is our livelihood, it is our job’- Decent work as a human right for women cross border traders in southern Africa, details how women working in ICBT in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe frequently face physical assault, sexual harassment, and intimidation, which is often perpetrated by state officials, including border authorities. Women also face violence from non-state actors.

In 2018, the value of informal cross-border trade in the Southern Africa region reached USD $17.6 billion. Informal cross-border trade is predominantly conducted by women, with women comprising 60% to 90% of those engaged in this trade across subregions. This sector presents significant potential for poverty alleviation.

Govt leads calls to uplift women entrepreneurs (The Herald)

The Government has called for enhanced capacitation of budding women entrepreneurs as part of efforts to improve the quality of products they produce in order to benefit from the vast export opportunities under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Micro, Small to medium enterprises (SMEs) in Zimbabwe employ 76 percent of the working population, with 57 percent of these being women, according to a 2021 MSME survey.

A recent study by United Nations Women identified opportunities for women entrepreneurs in the AfCFTA. The study focused on three areas of interest: women in informal cross-border trade (WICBT), gender and value chain analysis, and affirmative action/preferential public procurement.

However, while the regional trading block presents unlimited export opportunities for MSMEs, especially one run by women, it is also a highly competitive market where the quality of products and services plays a critical role in ensuring small businesses successfully tap into the market.

Women in African business take two steps forward, one step back (African Business)

Women in Africa are leading the way when it comes to establishing their own businesses. A quarter of all businesses on the continent are started or run by women, in contrast to Europe where the share of entrepreneurial activity by women is a lowly 5.7%.

“Africa does stand out in the global landscape when it comes to entrepreneurship,” according to Toni Weis, a financial specialist at the World Bank’s Gender Innovation Lab. “Of all the regions, Africa is the one that has gender parity in self-employment and entrepreneurship, which is really quite remarkable especially if you look at a neighbouring region like the Middle East and North Africa.”

Women’s strong participation in business in Africa is linked to a number of factors, including survival – formal job prospects can be limited, necessitating innovation and self-employment by women. Conversely, it is also likely that strong economic growth in many countries, widespread urbanisation and changing laws around women’s rights across the continent have enabled much greater female participation in businesses in recent years. There are also now far more initiatives that encourage women’s participation, including specific calls for female applicants for roles.

Despite this considerable progress, a number of structural, social and infrastructure challenges persist. Whereas more and more women are participating in the private sector, this participation is not always sustained higher up the career ladder.

5 ways to accelerate women’s economic empowerment (UN News)

“This year’s theme – invest in women – reminds us that ending the patriarchy requires money on the table,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement for the International Day.

“This all depends on unlocking finance for sustainable development so that countries have funds available to invest in women and girls,” he said, calling for action to support programmes to end violence against women and to drive women’s inclusion and leadership in economies, digital technologies, peacebuilding and climate action. While increasing women’s share of assets and finance is vital for their economic empowerment, equally important is building institutions that promote public investment in social goods and sustainable development.

See UN Secretary-General’s message on International Women’s Day (UN Women)

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UN telecomms agency chief: One third of humanity still offline (UN News)

In Least Developed Countries, only 30 per cent of women have access to the internet, Secretary-General Bogdan-Martin said. “I’ve seen women who can’t afford a smartphone, women in countries where entry-level handsets can exceed 70 per cent of the average household’s monthly income,” she said reflecting on the time spent in office, on the eve of the International Women’s Day. Women still account for a disproportionate share of those offline, outnumbering men by some 20 per cent.

Speaking about generative artificial intelligence (AI) – an area where ITU holds a leading role among the UN-family agencies – the Secretary-General stressed there are clear pros and cons. Citing AI’s potential to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions by 10 per cent and advance progress across the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, she cautioned against the threat AI poses, including cyberattacks and erosion of trust caused by dis and misinformation.

Goods barometer continues to signal weak upward momentum in trade (WTO)

The current reading of 100.6 for the barometer index is above the quarterly trade volume index but only slightly above the baseline value of 100 for both indices. This suggests that merchandise trade should continue to recover gradually in the early months of 2024, but any gains could be easily derailed by regional conflicts and geopolitical tensions.

The volume of world merchandise trade fell 0.4% in the third quarter of 2023 compared to the previous quarter and was down 2.5% compared to the same period in 2022.

The steep year-on-year drop in the third quarter was mostly due to relatively strong growth in the first three quarters of 2022. Goods trade from January to October in 2023 has been mostly flat, with volume in the third quarter nearly unchanged since the start of the year and up just 3.2% over two years. These developments are more negative than the WTO’s most recent forecast of 5 October 2023, which predicted 0.8% growth in merchandise trade in 2023.

Critical minerals: Harnessing data key to unlocking hidden treasures (UNCTAD)

The global quest for a cleaner energy system has escalated the demand for critical energy transition minerals such as lithium, cobalt, nickel and copper. These minerals play a crucial role in renewable energy technologies such as solar photovoltaic cells, wind energy, battery storage and electric vehicles.

For example, the demand for copper in clean energy systems is forecast to increase from 23% of total demand across all applications to over 42% by 2050, according to UNCTAD calculations based on data from the International Energy Agency. But if copper’s production continues at its current rate, the burgeoning demand won’t be met, creating a significant gap that needs to be addressed to keep global warming to no more than 1.5°C, in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change.

To meet the increasing demand, countries need to explore new resources abundant in high-grade mineral ores and attract investments into the sector, among other essential measures. They can use technology and data to identify resources that traditional geologists might overlook and assist miners in determining optimal drilling locations.

New UNCTAD-WHO analysis reveals trends in processed foods trade (UNCTAD)

Global trade in food grew by 350% from 2000 to 2021, reaching a total value of $1 689 billion. Food now represents about 8% of total merchandise trade globally, compared to 6% in 2000. With as many as 783 million people facing hunger worldwide in 2022, trade can help improve access to food.

“But not all foods that are imported and exported are equally good for us, and the composition of food trade can have important health impacts,” says Anu Peltola, director of UNCTAD’s statistics service.

A study by UNCTAD and the World Health Organization (WHO) presents a new framework for analysing the global food trade. The global trade matrix of processed food released on 7 March shows trends for food imports and exports at different levels of processing and for different country groups. The trends can help shed light on important economic, social and health dimensions in a country or region.

Red Sea Attacks Disrupt Global Trade (IMF)

In the past few months, global trade has been held back by disruptions at two critical shipping routes. Attacks on vessels in the Red Sea area reduced traffic through the Suez Canal, the shortest maritime route between Asia and Europe, through which about 15 percent of global maritime trade volume normally passes. Instead, several shipping companies diverted their ships around the Cape of Good Hope. This increased delivery times by 10 days or more on average, hurting companies with limited inventories.

On the other side of the world, a severe drought at the Panama Canal has forced authorities to impose restrictions that have substantially reduced daily ship crossings since last October, slowing down maritime trade through another key chokepoint that usually accounts for about 5 percent of global maritime trade.

Trade policy vital for sustainability despite questions (Allen Overy)

Trade policy is increasingly recognised as a key route to achieving global sustainability goals. Commitments to reach Net Zero require vast amounts of international investment to build green infrastructure and adapt existing systems. Free trade agreements can remove barriers to trade in sustainable products and technologies, while subsidies and tariffs can be used to incentivise the transition.

However, the legality of some of these measures is hotly debated, including whether they are compliant with international law. Trade and sustainability were also key topics of discussion at COP28, including the possibility of a more global approach to sustainable trade policy.

Closing remarks by Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Ville Tavio at the LDC Future Forum in Helsinki (Valtioneuvosto)

The topic of the Forum has been the role of innovations in transforming the economy and society, for innovations can truly accelerate development. Scaling up is much needed to reach the sustainable development goals.

As we have discussed, digitalization is leaping forward, but we also see digital gaps still being wide. We need to pay special attention to digital gaps which prevent women and girls from accessing online data. The digital economy holds many promises, but apart from the private sector we also need to enable institutions, citizens and civil society organizations to fully benefit from it. I hope that the Forum has given inspiring ideas on how to tackle these challenges.


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